Tales of the Bloodstone Lands
The Watcher, the Vigilant One, He of the Unsleeping Eyes
Symbol: Staring eye with blue pupil on the front of upright war gauntlet
Home Plane: House of the Triad
Alignment: Lawful neutral
Portfolio: Guardians, protectors, protection
Worshipers: Explorers, fighters, guards, mercenaries, paladins
Cleric Alignments: LE, LG, LN
Favored Weapon: “Ever Watchful” (bastard sword)
Helm (HELM) is the epitome of the guardian, the watcher, the guard, and has in years past been greatly venerated by those who need to remain watchful for evil at their doorsteps. He was once a much more powerful god, but has fallen upon hard times through two actions.
During the Time of Troubles, Helm was left with his powers and ordered to hold the gates to the Outer Planes against the other powers of the Realms when the other deities were stripped of their power and confined to the surface of Abeir-Toril. Helm did so all too successfully, and much of the resulting destruction and deific turmoil caused by the many divine deaths of the Godswar is laid at his feet.
Helm remained strong in the South, but experienced a further setback when his priests became deeply involved in an invasion of the True World of Maztica. Their unflinching and often brutal actions counted further against the god’s reputation. Because of the inflexible and cold reputation those actions gained him, Helm’s star is fading at a time when Torm and Gond are attracting new followers.
Helm is difficult to understand and is often viewed as emotionless, heartless, and devoted only to his duty or goal at the cost of all mortal consideration. While he is devoted to the point of obsession, he is not heartless, but merely a stern disciplinarian. He is fond of children and has been known to be most uncharacteristically lenient (for Helm) when dealing with small infractions by them or on their behalf.
In attempting to comprehend Helm’s driven nature, many mortal sages have attempted to account for him throwing himself into his work by blaming his behavior on a broken heart caused by long-unrequited or spurned love. Others say he lost a great love to tragedy or eternally grieves for a lost relative, such as a brother, sister, or child. Still others account for his behavior more coldly as a burning ambition to become the greatest of deities. Helm has never given credence to any of these theories, as he considers such speculations frivolous use of time that could be spent more honestly at productive work.
Prior to the Time of Troubles, Helm was a well-respected faith in most areas of the North. Its large temple complexes were usually situated near dangerous and evil areas (such as Darkhold) and were regarded as a first line of defense against evil people and creatures. Wracked by defections in the wake of the Time of Troubles, active persecution in the North by those angry that Helm forced the destructive divine avatars to remain in Faerun, and military and popularity losses related to the invasion of the True World (Maztica), the Vigilant or Watchful Ones (priests of Helm) have been in decline. They have only recently begun to recover popular favor and influence, strength, and organization under the unflinching, no-excuses leadership of the veteran priests of Helm from before the Time of Troubles known as the Tested and True. Most of these folk are people of inflexible beliefs and loyalty. They believe that Helm is the most favored of all the powers, for he was chosen to retain his powers to discipline the others.
Fighting their way back from a reputation that brands many dead magic areas “the Legacy of Helm,” the Tested and the True are having a tough time, but one which their strong discipline and the almost military hierarchy of the church of Helm are well suited to handle. All know their position by their rank within the church of Helm, and Helm himself sets the goals for his high priests and priestesses, determining what temples, abbeys, and shrines are to cooperate with each other in which ongoing efforts.
Titles used by the clergy of Helm are (in ascending order of rank): Novice, Adept, Trusty, Alert, Watchknight, Guardian, Overblade, High Watcher, and Senior Steeleye (a title applied to all senior clergy). These have been adopted only since the Time of Troubles, and members of the Tested and True and Watchers (specialty priests, derisively known as “Godseyes”) have been allowed to retain any older, personal, or variant titles. Clergy who lead or occupy an important office in a temple, abbey, or monastery may also bear additional titles pertaining to their duties.
“He also serves who stands and waits and watches carefully” and “Careful planning always defeats rushed actions in the end” are popular sayings of Helm’s faithful. Novices of Helm are charged to be vigilant and to be fair and diligent in the conduct of their orders. They must protect the weak, the unpopular, the injured, and the young and not sacrifice them for others. They must anticipate attacks and be ready, know their foes, and care carefully for their weapons so that their weapons can perform their duties properly when called upon.
“Never betray your trust” is the guiding phrase for faithful of Helm. This philosophy extends to thinking about how best to guard and protect, both in terms of weapons and the deployment of guardians, and to anticipating what attacks may come and having a practiced plan ready to deal with such threats. The faithful and the priests of Helm train and exercise so as to always be able to carry out their duties as best they can.
Helmites always obey orders, provided those orders follow the dictates of Helm. Helm’s wishes are often revealed to his faithful in response to on the spot prayer (often via an omen spell). He is very responsive in sending guiding vision, especially when his faithful face conflicting orders or directives, even from his senior clergy. The thought of commanding undead rather than turning them or destroying them is abhorrent to Helm, and so his clergy are not allowed to do so and would never dream of trying. This difference in philosophy is a major factor in the rivalry between his church and that of Torm.
Helmite clergy believe they can win back the rightful power of Helm only through demonstrated excellence of vigilance and purity of loyalty in their roles as guardians and protectors. They have set about trying to train bodyguards everywhere and spreading the word that only Helm-tested worshipers of the God of Guardians are truly worthy and reliable to their masters.
Holy Days/Important Ceremonies
The Helmite faith always holds a Ceremony of Honor to Helm on each Shieldmeet, but its members observe no other calendar-related rituals to the God of Guardians. On a daily basis, worshipers of Helm should always pray to the Vigilant One upon awakening and before composing themselves for slumber. A faithful worshiper who poses a question to the god typically receives some sort of (often cryptic) guidance in dream visions. Helm may also grace a nonbeliever who is growing interested in his faith with such visions.
The most holy major Helmite ceremonies are the Consecration of a Postulant, which is the dedication of a being seeking to be confirmed as one of the clergy of the church of Helm, and the Consecration of a Glymtul, which is a dedication of a special item to Helm’s service (glymtul is an ancient word for “favored thing”). Other ceremonies of note are the Purification and the Holy Vigil. The Purification is a renewal of faith undergone by beings returning to the faith or atoning for a shortcoming in vigilance, loyalty, or worship. The Holy Vigil ceremony marks the ascension of a priest to a higher rank. It is a night-long ceremony of concentration in which a priest, by willpower alone, keeps his or her weapon floating in midair. The weapon is enspelled by a senior priest through ritual magic to levitate, and the vigilance of the priest observing the ritual keeps it hovering.
Major Centers of Worship
The most prominent center of Helm’s faith is the Noble Hand in Tsurlagol. The Noble Hand is both a temple and a training school for professional guards. It flourishes under High Watchful Weaponmaster Ellym “Catsjaw” Thourin, a retired adventurer of some reputation.
Helm’s worship is also still very strong in the Vilhon Reach and also in the South. The Temple of the Vigilant Guard in lljak, led by Battle Marshal Senior Steeleye Tonorak Winthrax, is a bastion of the Helmite faith in the Vilhon Reach.
The members of the Companions of the One True Vision, an order of Helmite clerics, fighters, and crusaders, were known for being unswervingly loyal shock troops able to follow orders asking them to engage the most difficult objectives without breaking and hold the most trying positions against overwhelming odds. Recently, however, members of this order, many of whom served in the Helmite actions in Maztica, have taken a beating in popular reputation. Other affiliated Helmite orders include a small fellowship of battlefield healers known as the Watchers Over the Fallen, a group of dedicated bodyguards whom Helmite temples hire out to others to generate revenue called the Everwatch Knights, and an order of paladins called the Vigilant Eyes of the God.
Priests of Helm wear spotless, shining, (often everbright-enchanted), unblemished full plate armor with open-faced helms (a visor reduces vision). Often the helms are topped with plumes. Such armor may be accessorized with red cloaks and tabards of steel gray, and such garments—or the armor itself—may be adorned with the Unsleeping Eye in the center of both back and breast. In southern regions, Helmite clergy members often wear the finest full plate armor set with gems and worked with gold filigree in designs that accentuate great golden eyes set in the centers of their chests (on the breastplates) and backs. In areas where heavily armored clerics are frowned on, the armor is reduced to a set of heavy shoulder plates, but the helm remains in any case.
Adventuring Garb: Because of the useful nature of the ceremonial gear of the priests of Helm, it is worn in the field as well as for ceremonial purposes, unless it is decorated with such costly materials that the priest fears it will attract thieves, in which case a more utilitarian version of the same full plate armor is worn. In either case, the armor is dominated by the symbol of Helm’s eye on the chest, often shown in a sunburst or as the topmost level of a stepped pyramid.
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